The path to a rewarding and challenging career is a long, winding road. Developing the skills you need to get there starts well before you land your first full-time job, and continues throughout your career journey.
It sounds cliché, but it’s never too early to get started. There are plenty of ways you can start building valuable skills, even when in school. Whether planning to start your own business full time or on the side, or seeking to move up the ranks of a large corporation, your skill-building journey can start much earlier than you might think and doesn’t always have to involve formal training.
Summer jobs, or part-time jobs throughout the school year, can be great foundational learning experiences for developing specific skills needed in the corporate world, such as collaboration, diplomacy, customer service and multitasking.
So, whether leadership ambitions start right out of the gate or are developed over time, how can students prepare themselves as future leaders – whatever their career aspirations are?
The power of a part-time/summer job
Anyone who has regularly pursued part-time and/or summer jobs is already getting a solid grounding in leadership skills. Whether serving customers in a high-pressure fast-food joint, being a counsellor at a summer camp or working in a health-care facility, these experiences can get your foot in the door when facing your first career interviews.
I spent a lot of my summers working as a camp counsellor in Algonquin Park. During my last summer there as a senior staff member, I was managing a team, was in charge of program planning, and was responsible for keeping hundreds of young girls happy, healthy and having fun during their stays at overnight camp. While the income was nothing in comparison to that of some of my friends working elsewhere, the confidence I built in myself, the leadership skills I gained and the fulfilling experience of helping other young women was foundational in helping me develop my abilities.